Organ donation laws in the UK

Understand the organ donation laws in the different countries in the United Kingdom and find out how to confirm your decision to be an organ donor.

Organ donation laws in the UK follow an opt out system (excluding the Isle of Man). This means that if you die in circumstances where you could become a donor, it is assumed you are willing to donate your organs and tissue for transplantation.

You may also see the opt out system referred to as deemed consent, deemed authorisation, and presumed consent.

There are 7,000 people in the UK waiting for an organ transplant, but only around 1,400 donors a year.

Confirming your decision to be an organ donor

You do still have a choice to be an organ donor or to not be an organ donor when you die.

If you die in circumstances which would make organ donation possible, your family will be asked about your views on donation. The donation would not proceed if it were against your wishes.

Only a very small amount of people die in a way where it is possible for them to be donors. The more people who register as donors, the better chance we have of organ donation being possible.

Registering your decision on the Organ Donor Register, and informing your family of your wishes, will ensure that your decision is honoured in the event of your death.

Organ donation the gift of life infographic

Organ donation in each UK country

As of 2023, the law regarding organ donation in each of the four countries in the UK follows an opt out system.

Organ donation in England

Opt out is referred to as the “opt out system” in England. This came into effect in May 2020.

Organ donation in Wales

The opt out system in Wales is known as “deemed consent”. Wales was the first country in the UK to introduce opt out legislation in December 2015.

Organ donation in Scotland

In Scotland, the opt out system is called “deemed authorisation”. The law was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2019 and came into effect in March 2021.

Organ donation in Northern Ireland

The opt out system in Northern Ireland is known as “Dáithí’s Law”. Northern Ireland were the last of the four nations to adopt opt out, thanks to tireless campaigning from Kidney Care UK.

Organ Donation in the Crown Dependencies


Jersey follows an opt out system. It switched to the opt out system on 1 July 2019.


Guernsey follows an opt out system. It moved to an opt out system on 1 January 2023.

The Isle of Man

The Isle of Man does not follow an opt out system. Therefore, if you live on the Isle of Man, you must join the Organ Donor Registry if you wish to be a donor.

What is living kidney donation?

People can live perfectly healthy lives with just one kidney.

Living kidney donation is when a healthy person (the donor) chooses to give one of their kidneys to someone who needs it (the recipient).